2018 Miami Hurricanes Preview: Season 3 under Mark Richt
A lot of firsts happened during the past year for the Miami Hurricanes. The introduction of the turnover chain, the first time the Canes participated in ACC Championship Game and the opening of a brand new indoor practice facility.
Is three the charm?
Head coach Mark Richt has the Canes pointed in the right direction after about 15 years of mediocrity. The next step is now to win the ACC Championship and compete for college football playoff spot to really put Miami in the conversation of, “Da U is back”. Standing in the way is big bad bully Clemson, a national title contender, and a playoff team 3 years in a row. The Canes must show they were the team that raced to a 10-0 start and number #2 ranking and not the team that lost 3 in a row at the end of the year.
Senior QB Malik Rosier
Senior QB Malik Rosier returns for his senior season after providing plenty of big plays but also the main point of blame for the 3 game skid to end the season. Rosier must improve his accuracy and consistency throughout the game for the Canes to hit the next level on offense. Too many times, especially during the first half, did the Canes stall on offense and not move the ball. One major emphasis has to improving on third down conversations to sustain drives and keep the defense fresh.
Weapons on offense
Several experienced skilled players return in all around RB Travis Homer and WR’s Ahmmon Richards, 6’5 Lawrence Cager, and speedy Jeff Thomas. Homer nearly gained a 1,000 after starting the first 4 games as a backup and Richards must overcome a sophomore slump after an injury riddled season. After an injury to starting TE Michael Irvin JR., 2 true freshman will start in Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory. The other concern for the offense has to be the offensive line as only Navaughn Donaldson is the only lineman being listed on all conference team’s and the depth is another issue.
The Canes are loaded on defense where they have a playmaker at every level ready to rock the turnover chain. Defensive End Joe Jackson (6.5 sacks last year) and DT Gerald Willis III man the line up front and look to create havoc in the backfield. The linebackers are special as the 3 starting true freshman from two years ago are now all juniors going into their third season. Middle LB Shaquille Quarterman has been selected in several preseason All-American watch lists and weakside Michael Pinckney is special as well.
Senior cornerback Michael Jackson, no relation to the King of Pop, looks to lockdown one side of the field a year after having 4 picks. The true leader of the defense has to be sr safety Jaquan Johnson as he put together an all American season last year. Just call him “Mr. Turnover Chain” as he complied 96 tackles, 1 sack, 4 interceptions, 1 defensive touchdown, 3 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries.
On the special teams side true freshman Bubba Baxa is the new kicker and Zach Feagles must improve in his sophomore year. The return game should be dangerous with stalwarts like Jeff Thomas and Deejay Dallas returning kicks.
For a season outlook, I see Miami having a dominating defense and above average offense if the line holds up to produce an 11-1 record, possibly 10-2. This should be enough to return to the ACC championship but will have to face Clemson again and this time lose in a close one. This should be enough to return to a New Year’s six bowl. However, if Rosier can improve on his accuracy and decision making and they get a few breaks like upsetting Clemson, Miami could potentially be in the running for a playoff spot.
Written by Yousaf “Da Gur” Khan